Over 150 people from rural movements and rural networks of Europe (EU and beyond) met on 13th november 2013 in the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. Participants had been selected through a process started in spring 2013 with the aim to be representative of the diversity of rural people and territories. Euromontana was granted a seat. 30 countries were represented all in all, among which a lot of mountainous countries.
As a first experiment of the kind, the meeting aimed to assemble for the first time all rural stakeholders into one place to try to launch a new participative democratic process allowing rural communities to voice their opinions, needs and proposals at European level. “All Europe shall live” was made the slogan and main element of the final statement prepared in advance by the organisers and approved at the end.
A series of speakers presented the history and practice of rural movements throughout Europe, starting in 1772 with the first Norwegian rural movement and continuing from then on until the most recently launched in Montenegro in 2012. The swedish and estonian experiences were given a prominent role as the Swedish rural movement was co-organising the event and as they are identified as the lead of the movement.
In the afternoon, the Parliament split in working sessions to work on concrete proposals for decisions which have been submitted in advance to the Parliament. Proposals could be approved, rejected or amended. Most were discussed and will continue for some being elaborated in the coming weeks.
On 14th november, organisers were presenting the outcomes of the meeting to the Members of European Parliament.
This is only the start of a process which should contribute to strengthening the voice of rural Europe. Squeezed between pressure for metropolisation on one side, pressures on allocation of CAP funding to the farming sector mostly on the other side, the rural development policy needs to be clearly supported and the constellation of small NGOs involved can only succeed by cooperating more closely to increase visibility.
Participants were invited to team around the European Rural Community Alliance, a network of networks interested in these issues.Euromontana instances will examine in the coming weeks the interest and opportunity for Euromontana to join ERCA.
Presentations and statements will be made available soon here.
More information on European Rural Community alliance can be found here.14 November 2013